Tsunami miracle baby 10 years on

Lucky lass: Thulaasi and Suppiah sharing a light moment as they relax by the beach 10 years after the tsunami.

PENANG - In early September, tsunami miracle baby S. Thulaasi dreamt that a giant meteorite plunged into the sea off Batu Ferringhi near her home in Penang.

"It hit the sea just in front of my father's cafe. There was a big explosion, and the sea was filled with boiling lava," the 10-year-old recalls at a recent interview.

Her dream shifted to another location where she saw shattered roads and burning cars as a result of the meteorite's impact.

When she told her father A. Suppiah about the dream, he could not help but feel a sense of foreboding.

"I will never forget the terror I felt when the tsunami took her, so when she dreamt of the meteorite, it felt like it was a prophecy even though I knew it was only a dream," says 65-year-old Suppiah.

Thulaasi was swept out to sea in the 2004 tsunami when she was just 22 days old and then floated back to shore, still asleep on her mattress, with the second wave.

Recalling the heart-stopping moment, Suppiah says he first saw two waves frothing like soap water in the distance.

"The two waves were about 3m apart and 1m tall. They made two white lines on the sea that stretched all along the shoreline.

"About 10 minutes later, I saw a large wave in the distance. In seconds, it got closer and looked like a towering wall of water. I shouted for everyone to run but the tsunami hit before many tourists could even get up," he recalls.

That wave took the lives of 52 people on Penang island instantly and injured 141 others.

It also fractured Suppiah's hip, tore off the front wall of his shack, filled his bedroom to the ceiling with seawater and swept Thulaasi and her mattress out to sea.

"The wave pushed my older daughter Kanchana (nine years old at the time), up to the hillslope. She held on to the plants there and suffered scratches. I couldn't find Thulaasi anywhere. Many tourists were screaming and shouting because they had lost someone, and I was getting frantic," he says.

Less than 15 minutes later, another large wave surged towards land and there was panic on the beach again.

As the second wave reached the shore, someone on the slope above Suppiah shouted to him: "Your baby! Your baby is coming back!"

"The second wave returned Thulaasi almost to the front of my shack. She was still sleeping on her mattress. I held her close and cried in relief.

"I believe in miracles. I believe in God and divine intervention," Suppiah says emotionally.

The Star pays lucky Thulaasi a yearly visit to see how she is doing. She is now a cadet in a Tamil vernacular school in George Town.

Although her favourite subject is English, the lass wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Right now, she is driving her father up the wall by conducting freezing experiments on plant matter using their refrigerator!